Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Deep Impact's last images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

27-05-2014 19:13 CDT

Topics: pretty pictures, comets, Deep Impact, amateur image processing

Today I received an email notification of new public releases of some image data sets. I always love seeing new public space image data, but this notification was bittersweet: it included the first public release of the very last image data returned to Earth by Deep Impact. Early last year, Deep Impact began a campaign to observe comet ISON. (Remember ISON?) In fact, Deep Impact was the first spacecraft to observe ISON, though the comet was more than 5 AU away from the spacecraft at the time. They took data throughout the first half of 2013, and were slowly returning it to Earth when a computer bug ended the mission.

The last images returned to Earth had been taken in March 2013. The photo below includes data from 96 of those images. It may not look very impressive, but the comet was still nearly 4 AU away at the time that these photos were taken. The long streaks in the background are stars; the small dots are from hot pixels on the camera detector.

Deep Impact's final observations: Comet ISON

NASA / JPL / UMD / Emily Lakdawalla

Deep Impact's final observations: Comet ISON
This image of comet ISON is a stack of 96 photos taken with Deep Impact's Medium Resolution Imager on March 9 and 10, 2013. The image is enlarged from the original resolution by a factor of 4. The comet was about 3.9 AU from Deep Impact at the time. These are the last images that Deep Impact returned to Earth before failing in August 2013.

So long and thanks for all the data, Deep Impact!

See other posts from May 2014


Or read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, comets, Deep Impact, amateur image processing


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


Featured Images

LightSail 2 and Prox-1
Bill Nye at LightSail 2 pre-ship review
LightSail 2 pre-ship review team photo
Swirling maelstrom
More Images

Featured Video

Class 9: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!